Our clients approached us to work on an urban backyard located in the booming Logan Circle neighborhood in Washington, DC. They had recently completed a full renovation of the historic townhouse in a style that was open, airy, and modern and wanted an updated landscape design to match.
A new addition on the back of the house faces south and has tall banks of windows looking out to both the back and side yards—perfectly positioned to take in the surrounding view. The backyard was a blank slate with a simple cedar privacy fence enclosing it.
The clients wanted a simple modern garden to complement and complete the interior space. Their request was for an oasis in the city that that could be used for:
The modern stone patio was also to serve as the main entrance to the house for the family since parking is available nearby, behind the garden in the alleyway. The paving for the patio had to be “high-heel friendly,” but they did not want it to feel “overly constructed”.
In the end, we created a modern stone patio design that incorporates a large arc of granite cobblestones bordering a “lawn” panel of artificial turf to visually expand the narrow city site. Traditional Pennsylvania flagstone set in concrete was chosen to be solid and clean, but it is set with a staggered pattern that suggests a loose sand-set pathway. To repeat the linear proportions of the window mullions in the addition, we used 18” x 36” stones.
The clients’ request for a water feature was met with the acquisition of a hand-hewn granite plinth in a custom-made raised fountain that elevates the piece so it can be enjoyed from inside the “Solare” as well as from the outdoor dining table. The very narrow 6’ -wide side yard was utilized to create an outdoor grilling area amidst the modern stone patio and city garden. Narrow Sweetbay Magnolias were planted and uplit to create a view from the kitchen windows.
Lush but simple plantings including espaliered camellias, clump form bamboo, coral-barked Japanese Maple, and Yellowood. Hornbeams complete this city garden, softening the boundaries and hard edges of this urban site in the heart of Washington, DC.
The site is very small, measuring about 22’ x 22’ with a “hallway” that is just 6’ wide and 28’ long. Yet despite its size, it had to accommodate the needs of three dogs, two cats, and two urban professionals. Every inch had to be taken into consideration to create a successful modern stone patio and complementary city garden.
The water feature was squeezed down to the smallest possible footprint to allow for a modern patio that’s surrounded by green “lawn” and still accommodates dining for four to six people.
The cobblestone arc visually expands the space and bridges the gap between the larger square area and the narrow hallway, subtly leading guests to the back door.
To meet the demands of the dogs, we installed artificial turf. Low-maintenance turf always looks natural, and an irrigation system helps keep the space clean. A tree grows up out of the turf to enhance the natural atmosphere.
Traditional hardwood mulch is messy in this kind of site (and too appealing to the cats), so we replaced it with a fine-textured river rock that has a good modern feeling, reflects light in dark corners, needs refreshing less often than wood mulch, and helps to keep the cobblestone and turf areas clean.
Bed preparation was a nightmare; it had been many years since this land was cultivated and the crew removed wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of contaminated soil, bricks, and old construction debris through the 36” wide gate before it could be amended and planted.
Yet despite these obstacles, the outcome was magnificent. The finished modern patio and city garden offer riveting views, providing our clients with the backyard oasis they desired amidst the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC.
If you are interested in renovating your landscape, we can give it new life. Botanical Decorators has earned numerous awards for our landscape designs in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, and this is a perfect example of one of our urban projects. Whether you want to install a modern stone patio or city garden in limited space, or have something else on your wish list, we can help you achieve the desired result.